I never used to pay Google Search Console much attention, only occasionally logging in to checkup, or when I get an email about warnings.
However, that has changed in the past year, and it is now one of the tools I use daily to make sure things are running smoothly and to identify problems as quickly as possible.
Furthermore, the Performance tab has improved leaps and bounds in recent years. I view this just as important as Google analytics nowadays giving you key information on the exact queries that are performing well for you.
The latest upgrade/change to the Google Search Console is a switch from the speed report to something called Core Web Vitals.
Google has not announced what has changed exactly with this report, but it does show different metrics.
However it is basically the same thing giving you the same data about what pages are poor, need improvement or are good for both mobile and desktop.
While the information it gives you is more or less the same, it represents an increased focus on three (core) vital elements to page load time and the overall user experience. While the speed of a website is a major factor, it is not 100% what the Core Web Vitals cover.
The Core Web Vitals are broken down into three categories:
We already knew page speed was a ranking factor for SEO, how much of an effect that makes is another question. However, Google will be putting more focus on the overall user experience in the future.
It is expected that this shift to focus on user experience will play a big part in ranking. However, you don’t have to panic too much yet.
Google has confirmed the search ranking change would be rolled out in 2021 at the earliest. The company won’t commit to specific timing, and the Coronavirus crisis has thrown a spanner in the works, the spokesperson added. Indeed, in its announcement, Google noted that “many site owners are rightfully placing their focus on responding to the effects of COVID-19.”
The Core Web Vitals tab in search console provides data from pages that Google collected data from user data on your site from users around the world. So it may not include all the website pages if some of these pages have very low traffic.
So this is the quickest way to get an overview of what is going on, but it likely won’t show data for new pages, or when you make major changes to a website or page design.
Google has an official PageSpeed Insights tool that will give you specific information on the Core Web Vitals metrics. With this tool, it has 4 main sections, followed by 6 lots of lab data. While all the items are important, the ones with the blue bookmark to the right of them are the Core Web Vitals assessment.
An alternative option is GTmetrix, this can be used to give you a general overview of areas that you can improve your pagespeed.
Core Web Vitals and the PageSpeed Insights tool don’t typically represent what you the client/website owner sees when your website is loaded.
This is because these tools target the lowest common denominator. So the tools don’t load up your page in a simulated environment over a slow internet connection(1.5mbps) on a mobile device (Google Nexus 5X which launched 5 years ago).
This, therefore, give you the results that work for as many people as possible.
The answer to this deserves a post of its own, assuming you don’t want to redevelop your entire website, there are plenty of things you can do.
This quick list goes from easiest/cheapest to implement to harder/more expensive. This is all relevant to WordPress, but it will work in most other scenarios too.
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